• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Ada Colau: Fighting on the home front

Alex Dunham · 27 Feb 2013, 09:05

Published: 26 Feb 2013 15:32 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Feb 2013 09:05 GMT+01:00

So who is Ada Colau?

She’s a 38-year-old civil rights activist from Barcelona who recently called both Spain’s stringent mortgage law, and a renowned banker who praised it, "criminal". She then added, "I would've preferred to have thrown a shoe at him, but chose not to as I had some important things to say today in parliament".

Tell me more about her.
 
Ada has been the public face of the PAH (Platform for those Affected by Mortgages) for the past four years. This social lobby group has stopped around 600 evictions and continues to denounce an evictions regime it claims has caused the suicides of many people.
 
The platform gained momentum and a higher profile from the 15M and Democracia real YA! (Real Democracy NOW!) movements of 2012, which saw hundreds of thousands of Spaniards, if not millions, take to the street in protest against the pitiful state of the economy.
 
But Ada still remained a relatively unknown face in Spain until just recently.
 
So what’s changed?
 
On January 29th her condemnation of the banking community in parliament made her the new voice of the average José on the street. Hundreds of thousands have already watched her eloquent but passionate demolition of the evictions regime on YouTube, and her Twitter following has quadrupled in less than three weeks to more than 36,000.
 
 
Is there anything else she’s famous for?
 
No, there’s more. Ada and the PAH managed to gather 1.4 million signatures for an initiative calling on parliament to amend Spain’s intransigent mortgage law, which not only empowered courts to evict defaulting debtors but also to embargo their assets and future earnings.
 
Colau and her colleagues went to parliament on February 12th to call for legal changes to allow outstanding mortgage debt to be liquidated on surrender of the property.
 
But the PP was having none of it and chose to vote against the initiative on the grounds that it had its own proposals that would make the petition obsolete.
 
That was until Basque MP Uxue Barkos informed the house that a couple in Mallorca had just committed suicide after finding out they were to be evicted.
 
Colau and other PAH activists heckled PP speakers and chanted "¡Sí, se puede!" (Yes, we can!) and "bastards", until they were expelled from the public gallery. The PP speaker in congress Jesus Posadas was then caught on microphone calling out to the ushers: "Fuck, have them thrown out!"
 
 
Story continues below…
But during a corruption scandal involving handouts made to many top officials and with the overall reputation of the party in tatters, PP deputies could not really avoid giving Ada Colau a national stage on which to talk about Spain’s housing crisis.
 
What's next for her then?
 
Ada has been hailed by many Spaniards as a modern day heroine who is standing up to a lacklustre government with no sympathy for those being forced out of their homes.
 
There have already been calls for her to enter parliament, but she says “it’s the assembly that will decide my future”.
 
In the meantime, Colau appears adamant about continuing the fight against evictions.

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Brit escapes hitmen after gun jams in Costa del Sol attack

A British expat survived an attack by two masked men at the door to his Spanish home after their weapon jammed.

Spain smashes Nigerian 'CEO swindle' scammer network
Photo: AFP

The scammers duped senior company executives into parting with personal details which were then used to empty their financial accounts.

Bomb threat from man refused beer on Ryanair flight in Spain
Photo: AFP

The man said he would detonate a bomb because "they won't serve me beer".

It's official: Spain has the best beaches in the whole world
Morro Jable beach on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. Photo: Samuel Aranda/AFP.

Spain can safely hold onto its title as the country with the most top beaches in the world.

Refugee with cerebral palsy could start new life in Spain
Osman is currently waiting at a camp in Greece. Photo: Bomberos en Acción.

Spanish officials are hoping to bring the seven-year-old boy to Spain where he could finally find the medical care he needs.

First in Europe: Spain reports Zika-related birth defects case
Photo: Government of Alberta/Flickr

Spain has detected its first known case of the microcephaly birth defect in the foetus of a pregnant woman infected with the Zika virus.

Spain hunts Russian officials close to Putin in mafia probe
Arrest warrents have been issued for those close to Putin. Photo: AFP

Spain has issued arrest warrants against several high-ranking Russian officials as part of a probe into a powerful underworld gang.

Video
Watch this escaped hippo waddle through Spanish town
Photo: @lolamarquez12 / Twitter

A hippo went out for a late night stroll through a town in southern Spain.

Joanna Lumley demands end to Spain's hunting dog cruelty
Joanna Lumley and Rey. Photos: (L) Ian Rankin and (R) Nikki de Gruchy

The British actress has joined a campaign demanding that Spain put a stop to the barbaric cruelty suffered by its hunting dogs.

The Local list
Ten things that only happen in Spain when summer arrives
Photo: Indra Galbo/Flickr

Are you ready to order a tinto de verano?

Sponsored Article
How to launch your international career
Education
Students at Spanish college forced to take exorcism class
Sponsored Article
What's the best way for expats to transfer money abroad?
National
Ten superb reasons why you need to visit San Sebastián
Society
Abused wife saved by hiding SOS note in son's homework
National
Look up! Rare meteor shower set to dazzle skies over Spain
Politics
Why Spain is heading for a Groundhog day election
Travel
Ibiza bans drinking in street… and that includes water
National
Expats didn't 'abandon' UK so ALL Brits should get EU vote
Features
What's on in Spain: May 2016
Travel
Discover Spain's breathtaking national parks
National
Couple caught on camera having sex on metro platform
National
Spain's stunning locations for Game of Thrones Season Six
National
Ten delicious Spanish dishes you must try before you die
National
Forget tampons and use sea sponges, says Catalan town
Culture
Nine reasons why Cervantes is better than Shakespeare
International
Two thirds of Spaniards want Britain to remain in EU
National
Seven great ways to celebrate 400 years of Cervantes
National
Report raises fears of Isis terror plot on Costa del Sol
National
Five bonkers ways Spain is commemorating Cervantes
National
Bad owners to sweep streets in Madrid's war on dog poo
Culture
Ten weird things that shock Spaniards about the UK
Features
Debunking the myth: How true are Spanish stereotypes?
International
Bienvenidos a Blighty: Spanish workers flock to UK
National
Spaniards design mattress to catch out love cheats
3,376
jobs available